Skip to main content

Exploring Natural Relief: The Impact of Nutraceuticals on Childhood Gut-Brain Pain Disorders

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMay 29, 2024

Parents seeking alternative treatments for their children’s abdominal pain and gut-brain interaction disorders may find hope in nutraceuticals. A narrative review, conducted by Silvia Salvatore and her colleagues, delves into the role of traditional herbal remedies and natural compounds in alleviating symptoms of infantile colic, functional abdominal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children. This study, published in Nutrients in 2024 (16, 349) and available in full at MDPI, provides a detailed analysis based on literature updated to October 2023, sourced from Pubmed and Medline.

The researchers focused on specific natural treatments that have historically been used to soothe digestive discomfort. Fennel tea or oil, a remedy with roots in ancient civilizations, has shown promising signs of reducing colic episodes and crying time in infants. Studies on peppermint oil capsules suggest a decline in the pain associated with functional abdominal pains in older children. Additionally, combinations of various herbal extracts, including fennel, chamomile, and peppermint, reported benefits in managing colicky symptoms.

Probiotics, particularly strains like Lactobacillus reuteri and Bifidobacterium lactis, have surfaced as potential agents in decreasing pain intensity for children with abdominal pain and IBS. Psyllium fibers were also noted to alleviate symptoms in some cases. Interestingly, vitamin D supplementation provided relief in a study of adolescents with IBS, possibly by moderating inflammation and influencing serotonin synthesis.

Despite the interest in these natural solutions, the evidence remains moderate with a call for more robust pediatric trials to confirm the efficacy and safety of the nutraceuticals explored. For now, the scientific community advocates for a cautious approach, underscoring the importance of consulting pediatric gastroenterology specialists before opting for these treatments.

In conclusion, while the trials reviewed suggest a hopeful pathway towards managing childhood gut-brain pain disorders through nutraceuticals, the field is still in its infancy. Further research with larger sample sizes and long-term studies is needed to establish clear recommendations and fully understand potential adverse effects. Parents evaluating these options are urged to do so under the guidance of healthcare professionals.

For further information and to read the full article, visit MDPI.

Build with the help of Buoy Health.


Salvatore, S., Carlino, M., Sestito, S., Concolino, D., Agosti, M., & Pensabene, L. (2024). Nutraceuticals and Pain Disorders of the Gut–Brain Interaction in Infants and Children: A Narrative Review and Practical Insights. Nutrients, 16(3), 349.